Political hopeful to stay as chamber CEO

By Doug Laingdoug laing@hbtoday co nz

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Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford has no plans to step aside from the role to avoid potential conflicts of interest as he steps up his campaign as National Party candidate for Napier at this year's general election.

However, he will step aside from answering political questions, if they are directed at the chamber. Chamber president Brent Linn said "protocols" were in place to deal with any potential conflicts, most likely to surround confusion over whether Mr Walford was speaking as a chamber spokesman or as an election candidate.

Among the steps is for Mr Linn to be the chamber representative in any "matters of a political nature", he said.

Mr Linn said that when Mr Walford raised the issue of his interest in seeking the National candidacy in Napier, the chamber congratulated him and then established the protocols.

He said that, like any organisation, the chamber would have some members who were "left" and some who were "right" but the organisation itself was "apolitical" and focused on "arguing what's best for businesses".

"As far as Wayne's position with the chamber is concerned, we said at the time (he was selected) that's it's business as usual," Mr Linn said. "What's changed from then? It's business as usual."

Labour Party Napier candidate Stuart Nash said: "Wayne has enough integrity to separate his candidate role from the role at the Chamber of Commerce. I have no difficulty with him staying on as its CEO."

Mr Walford's decision came as the Labour Party's Tukituki candidate, Anna Lorck, announced that during the campaign she was stepping aside as one of the three directors of a marketing and public relations firm, Attn! Marketing PR, to avoid perceptions of conflicts of interest. The company said in a statement it would be "business as usual" under the two remaining directors, Damon Harvey and Catherine Wedd.

The statement also noted pro-amalgamation group A Better Hawke's Bay (ABHB) was not a client of Attn! Marketing PR but Mr Harvey was a trustee of ABHB.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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